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Russia tries and fails to curb chemical weapon watchdog's powers

Russia has tried to curb the powers of the chemical weapons watchdog [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 November, 2018

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Russia has attempted to curb the powers of a chemical weapons watchdog, following a raft of attacks by Moscow's ally Syria.
Russia has failed to block new powers assigned to a chemical weapons watchdog, amid a fall-out with the body over its assessment of chemical attacks in Syria.

Moscow led a failed push to curb the powers of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to allow it to assign blame for a number of massacres involving the use of banned chemicals - including deadly sarin - in Syria.

Although the OPCW has established that it is "very likely" chemical weapons have been used in Syria, it has not been able to say who was responsible for the attacks.

The Syrian regime is widely believed to have carried out dozens of chemical attacks on opposition, which include the use of chlorine and sarin.

One toxic gas attack in Eastern Ghouta this year killed at least 42 people. In 2013, sarin was used on the opposition town of Douma killing hundreds, while the village of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province was targeted with the chemical in 2017, which left up to a hundred civilians dead.

Russia has defended its ally Bashar al-Assad from accusations that his forces were responsible for the massacres, despite overwhelming evidence.

A UK proposal in June that would grant the OPCW powers to investigate and assign responsibility for a chemical massacres in Syria, which was passed by an overwhelming majority.

Russia put forward a draft resolution on Tuesday to revere the move, which was blocked with 82 against and 30 in favour.

Russia is also looking to block funding to the Syria investigation team which will begin work next year.

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